Faf du Plessis takes veiled dig at Virat Kohli, pays tribute to AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers smashed 65 off 84 balls on a difficult wicket in Cape Town in the first Test against India and that was the prime factor in South Africa taking a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.cricket Updated: Jan 12, 2018 21:10 IST
“Anyone who gets judged on being the best in the world, whether it is a bowler, batsman or team, I feel should get judged all around the world,” South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said with a wink when asked if he considered Virat Kohli to be on a par with AB de Villiers or better when it comes to batting in Tests.
Not only was Faf’s response a veiled dig at Kohli, it was also a glowing tribute to de Villiers’ class.
BACK WITH A BANG
AB De Villiers’ has been a curious case, giving it up when he had everything, only to miss the action after a year’s sabbatical and pledging himself to all formats of cricket. In that one year, Temba Bavuma was identified and invested as a future prospect who could graft runs and put a price on his wicket, only for de Villiers to almost usurp his spot in this series.
De Villiers’ addition to the eleven makes sense, given his knowledge about the Indian players -- Kohli being the most prominent -- due to the time spent with them in the Indian Premier League. There is a mental side to it as well. De Villiers was the only South African among the top five run-scorers on the 2015 tour of India. With 258 runs, he was just eight short of Ajinkya Rahane, who ended with most runs in that series.
A proven performer on all surfaces, de Villiers was expected to bail out South Africa on a tricky surface in Newlands too. His 84-ball 65 in a 114-run partnership with du Plessis is one of the biggest reasons South Africa arrived at Centurion 1-0 ahead in the series. The South Africa captain indicated that not only in this series, de Villiers, 33, will continue to be their batting mainstay against Australia as well.
“His job is to score big runs and make an impact with the bat. I know he is very hungry to do well, and a hungry AB usually means a big run-scoring AB. So, hopefully over the next few months, we will get a lot of runs from him,” said du Plessis, reaffirming his preference for six specialist batsmen.
“One less batter makes your responsibility on the top six a little bit more. I don’t mind that. Sometimes when you have a long batting line-up, you can take your foot off because someone else might come and do that. We know if we get totals on the board with the bowlers that we have, then we’ll bowl sides out,” he said.
As long as that remains the mindset, AB de Villiers will continue to be that impact player who can change the outcome of a match in the matter of one session. He did it in Cape Town. And South Africa will be hoping he hits the ground running on his home turf as well.